Data Analytics Improves Hospital Procedures fro More Proactive Systems

TransUnion data cleansing exercise gives large Gauteng hospitals a clean bill of health

The proactive management of information in the commercial sphere helps businesses to better manage their data and their risk, and continually improve their service offering. A recent data cleansing exercise in Gauteng’s four largest public hospitals now means that these institutes are enabled to improve access to healthcare for individuals and simultaneously make educated decisions about their overall functioning and healthcare offerings.


Thato Matsipe, Executive Industry Head: Public Sector & Telco at TransUnion, a global leader in credit and information management, explained the situation: “Our company recently went into a few of the main public hospitals in Gauteng, namely the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Edenvale Hospital, Tembisa Hospital and Rahima Moosa Hospital. They were all, to a greater or lesser degree, experiencing issues from poorly saved data. This was having an impact on systems and processes and ultimately on the service offering to patients. The exercise involved taking the hospitals’ current data, completing a data cleansing project and improving processes for these hospitals.”


The data cleansing exercise, on average, took five weeks for each hospital. It involved working hand in hand with the Department of Health to clarify over 18 million records recorded in the four hospitals. Matsipe said, “Due to legacy issues, systems and processes were either extremely flawed or lacking. We received a single data base and our task was to clean and match the records and generally data ‘cleanse’ the product. In doing so, we were creating building blocks to start offering and improving patient-orientated services and systems, which is of course critical in helping patients receive the health service they require.”


Matsipe says the corrected data base will assist patients and their families, as well as the hospitals and the Department of Health. The more automated, streamlined information systems will allow the hospitals to stay up to date with patients’ details. This includes two issues that each present huge ramifications: firstly, being able to trace the employers of those who are presenting themselves as being unemployed, and secondly being able to locate a next of kin in an emergency situation. Both of these specific issues add unique and enormous value to a hospital’s operational efficiencies.

Employed or unemployed?

The newly improved data management systems have helped various hospitals in uncovering patients’ incorrectly captured health and lifestyle situations. Examples abound of patients giving false information about their employment status to avoid full payment, as the following cases illustrate:

  • Steve Biko Academic Hospital had a patient receiving treatment for over a year who claimed that he was unemployed. A spokesperson said, “The TransUnion check revealed that this person was in fact the business owner of a large, well-known company in the area. We were then able to reclassify him correctly and immediately.”
  • A Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital spokesperson had a similar story. “At admission, a patient claimed that she was not working and even had an affidavit from the police station to confirm this. When we checked TransUnion’s data, we saw that she was in actual fact a business owner. There have been many patients whom we have now been able to classify correctly after checking the TransUnion system.”
  • Similarly, a spokesperson from Edenvale Hospital says, “I remember one day a patient wanted her classification corrected. With her ID book in hand, it was easy to trace the patient’s employment history. She declared that she was unemployed. However, we discovered that the opposite was true and when we told her that the system shows she is working at a specific company, she was shocked.”
  • A spokesperson from Tembisa Hospital has also applauded the TransUnion system for allowing the hospital to service its patients more accurately and efficiently, saying, “Since the inception of the system in the hospital, we are able to trace professional persons who have been presenting themselves as unemployed.”

Next of kin in an emergency situation

The Rahima Moosa Hospital showcases the challenge of many patients arriving at the emergency room unconscious or semi-conscious with very few contact details on their person. A spokesperson clarifies, “If these patients die, we really struggle to find their relatives and therefore have frequently had a number of unclaimed bodies in our mortuary. The TransUnion system has helped us immensely with this extremely sensitive problem. We are now able to find home addresses and contact details to notify the next of kin.”

Moving forward

According to Matsipe: “This data will assist the Department of Health in rolling out other services. Data that is efficiently captured and organised allows for predictive analytics. For example, if the formatted data shows that there are many patients coming from a certain area, this may indicate a need to supplement the hospital’s services with the provision of a mobile clinic.”

Efficient information management allows a business entity to control the creation and growth of records, reduce operating costs, improve efficiencies and productivity, and, in due course, move forward with new projects and further technological evolution. Matsipe says the newly instituted online system will replace process gaps and help with the issues created by the legacy systems.

“As the online processes are adopted, the data becomes richer and denser and this only empowers the Department of Health and those who work at the hospitals even further. Ultimately, this data cleansing project has helped to streamline processes and applications within these Gauteng hospitals. The core business of a public hospital is to improve access to healthcare and this project is assisting the healthcare department to do just this,” Matsipe concludes.